Updates from Honeywell

I am in a hallway of the JW Marriott Grande Lakes in Orlando attending my first Honeywell User Group meeting in several years. I missed a couple before the pandemic shut things down. More than 1,200 people here, so it’s a lively return to conference season. 

There were several announcements in CTO Jason Urso’s usual high energy product keynote this morning. The one I am reporting today deals with sustainability—of which they had much to say. Other announcements will discuss the future of process control and other goodies. I was also sitting on an update from Honeywell Forge (software) that I’ll tack on to the end of this report.

Honeywell Introduces Emissions Control and Reduction Initiative

This initial offering will focus on the detection and reporting of fugitive methane emissions to help users reduce production losses, improve productivity and comply with ongoing legislation.

Honeywell announced an Emissions Control & Reduction Initiative designed to help customers achieve carbon neutrality in a wide range of areas. The initiative will initially focus on helping oil and gas customers with upstream, midstream and downstream operations to monitor and reduce fugitive methane emissions, which are more than 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

By combining its portfolio of fixed, portable and personal gas detection solutions with gas cloud imaging cameras, Honeywell will provide customers with early detection of fugitive methane emissions, including the precise location of any leaks and associated data analytics and trends. Equipped with this data, users can act quickly to address leaks and other identified risks to minimize production losses and maintain compliance with legislation.

The solution – which combines wireless gas detector technology with enterprise-wide data management solutions – works in tandem with existing Leak Detection & Repair (LDAR) testing methods to improve the accuracy of reporting and increase productivity by enabling users to find production losses faster.

Honeywell’s methane detection capability will be available to customers in Q4 2022.

Honeywell Introduces Honeywell Forge Connected Warehouse

Honeywell announced the Spring 2022 release of new offerings and enhancements to Honeywell Forge, the leading enterprise performance management software solution, designed to assist customers in accelerating the digital transformation of their operations. This class of offerings, which includes Honeywell Forge Connected Warehouse, will help organizations simplify operations and lower costs by providing increased visibility to data as well as real-time insights, monitoring and automation. 

“Our new Honeywell Forge Connected Warehouse offering brings a scalable and cloud-based solution to help distribution centers accelerate their productivity, predictability and transformation strategies,” said Kevin Dehoff, president and CEO of Honeywell Connected Enterprise. “We are proud to also introduce several enhancements to our current software solutions across the aerospace, smart buildings and industrial sectors, enabling enterprises to optimize asset performance and drive operational savings.”

Honeywell Forge Connected Warehouse provides organizations with two modules that provide real-time visibility across their warehouse site operations and advanced analytics to reduce unplanned downtime, address recurring challenges and automate legacy processes. The Site Operations module features a dashboard that indicates how sites are performing against plan and helps managers identify repetitive bottlenecks and proactively address issues that may impact performance. The interface, which is optimized for tablets, enables enterprise benchmarking, monitors areas such as picking and shipping and makes recommendations to achieve daily targets. Users can use the Honeywell Forge Connect edge solution to connect devices and integrate with standard warehouse systems.

Honeywell is launching enhancements to other software across the aerospace, smart buildings and industrial sectors.

• The all-new Honeywell Forge Pilot Connect mobile app is our latest aerospace offering, designed to improve fuel savings while engaging flight crews in their companies’ sustainability and efficiency initiatives. The easy-to-use app works with Honeywell Forge Flight Efficiency to provide pilots with briefing information like historic fuel averages, debriefing information like trajectory analytics, and customizable KPIs and targets.

• For the commercial real estate industry, Honeywell Forge Predictive Maintenance provides near real-time visibility into buildings’ health & performance, and service cases in order to prioritize asset issues based on safety, operational and quality risks.

• Additionally, Sine occupant experience solutions provide frictionless access to buildings via mobile Bluetooth. Other improvements include new scheduling and capacity planning features along with occupant experience enhancements such as better feedback, information and wayfinding.

• UniSim Design now provides a common simulation platform for upstream oil and gas, downstream processing and sustainability. It contains new features for modeling Green H2, CO2 capture, transportation and storage. 

• Honeywell Forge Inspection Rounds offers new features for industrials customers that allow the capture of images and videos during task execution and the creation of reusable checklists to drive standardization across an organization. Other additions include GPS-enabled monitoring of worker proximity, enhanced capabilities for gaining insights from historical data trends and improved asset identification through NFC tagging.

• For OT Cybersecurity, Honeywell is rolling out a new Cyber Care services offering to supplement its Process Control Network (PCN) Hardening Service. After completion of the initial PCN hardening services to help industrial companies reduce their OT attack vectors, Cyber Care provides an option to purchase bi-annual onsite Cyber Care visits by Honeywell consultants for maintaining previously implemented networking hardening benefits and identifying potential additional PCN hardening settings for enhanced protection.

Honeywell Forge is a purpose-built software solution on a native edge-to-cloud, data-driven architecture designed to accelerate digital transformation of operations. Explore the Spring Release, learn more about Honeywell Forge, request a demo and follow Honeywell Forge on LinkedIn for the latest news.

Responsible Computing Consortium

We thought of Artificial Intelligence as something magical. Then we figured out that much of the output of AI depends upon how the application is trained. Then, duh, we discovered bias underneath the AI training. Perhaps concepts we have learned since ancient times such as ethics, morals, and responsibility are important. My adolescent self hates hearing me say things like that. But, it’s true.

Sometimes I despair at the general lack of taking responsibility for our words and actions I too often observe.

In a bit of mining that same vein, the Object Management Group announced last Friday, May 20, a new consortium called Responsible Computing (a trademark of IBM, by the way). The founding members of this group are IBM and Dell. Its purpose is to focus on sustainable development goals.

From the news release, “Responsible computing is a systemic approach aimed at addressing current and future challenges in computing, including sustainability, ethics, and professionalism, stemming from the belief that we need to start thinking about technology in terms of its impact on people and the planet.”

“Responsible Computing aims to shift thinking and, ultimately, behavior within the IT industry and affect real change,” said Bill Hoffman, Chairman, and CEO of RC and OMG. “We’ve made our manifesto and framework freely available, and we’ve asked every RC member to implement RC principles. Our goal is that someday every IT professional will adhere to RC principles.”

The new consortium’s manifesto defines RC values to restore trust in IT by responsibly applying technology and by sharing experiences with other organizations. These values include sustainability, inclusiveness, circularity, openness, authenticity, and accountability.

The consortium’s RC framework focuses on six domains of responsible computing, including:

  • Data centers – are designed and operated with a focus on efficiency and sustainability, including emphasizing green energy and improving the handling and disposal of chemicals, toxic materials, and rare metals.
  • More sustainable infrastructure – monitoring the energy usage of products and technologies. Efficient and more sustainable operations, including proper disposal of products.​
  • Code – choosing code that optimizes environmental, social, and economic impact over time. Optimal code includes efficient algorithms, frameworks, and tools and KPIs to accelerate decision-making and pinpoint areas requiring more scrutiny during software development.
  • Data usage – the safe use of data will drive transparency, fairness, privacy, and respect for users.
  • Systems – that address bias and discrimination by driving equality for all, for example, the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for transparency.​
  • Impact – the technologies and innovations that drive a positive impact on society at large such as building to improve human conditions and mitigate social risk.

Through interviews with over 100 CTOs concerns were raised around developing practical actions to progress Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) programs. They wanted to contribute to becoming more sustainable businesses and demonstrate progress through consistent metrics. In November 2020, IBM’s Academy of Technology (AoT)’s responded to these challenges and created the Responsible Computing Council, an international team of technology and computing leaders who collaborate in validation and the implementation of the RC framework and lead by example in becoming a responsible computing provider. Object Management Group (OMG) was an early member of the council, and shortly after that, the OMG board approved the formation of the RC consortium.

“Now is the time for companies to adopt a holistic approach that places sustainability strategy at the center of their business,” said Sheri Hinish, Global Lead, IBM Consulting Sustainability Services. “IBM is proud to be a founding member of the RC consortium. Through this collaboration, we hope to help companies establish new and innovative ways to transform their business operations through ethical, impactful ways that can help contribute to a more sustainable future.”

“Dell is proud to be a founding member of the RC consortium. We are aligned with and driven by a similar passion to help leading technology organizations realize their sustainable development goals, in line with the planet’s,” said Marc O’Regan, CTO EMEA, Dell Technologies. “In addition to being socially and environmentally responsible, we also expect that RC members will see improved go-to-market solutions, strategies and bottom-line results by following RC principles.”

An organization can become more operationally efficient and demonstrate a return on investment (ROI) when meeting sustainability goals. The ROI can potentially include:​

  • Reduced power consumption
  • Waste reduction for packaging
  • Cost-effective heating and cooling solutions​
  • Supply chain efficiency, and more

Emerson and AspenTech Complete Transaction Creating New AspenTech

I consider the Emerson Chief Marketing Officer the best branding expert in our market. She must have lost a battle this time. Emerson and AspenTech announced the successful closing of the combination of Emerson’s industrial software businesses – OSI Inc. and its Geological Simulation Software business – with AspenTech “to create a global industrial software leader.” The new entity is called—new AspenTech. Evidently they are using the lower case “new” on the name.

With the close of the transaction, Emerson owns 55% of new AspenTech on a fully diluted basis and AspenTech shareholders own the remaining 45%. Shares of new AspenTech will begin trading on NASDAQ under the ticker symbol “AZPN” (previously AspenTech’s ticker symbol) starting May 17, 2022.

This reflects the new wave of bringing software businesses into mainline hardware businesses. Don’t do a complete acquisition. Restructure the investment so that the company owns a majority of shares and the “acquired” company becomes the minority holder. I’m not a financial genius, but from an organizational point-of-view it makes sense. The finances of a hardware business are much different from those of a software business. This keeps the messy part separated.

This deal also makes sense in that AspenTech has been one of those tech companies with good technology but has struggled financially. I’m sure Emerson brings strong financial controls along with its investment that should help stabilize the company. This should be good for customers.

“I am excited to announce the close of our transaction with AspenTech, which accelerates Emerson’s software strategy and creates an enhanced, high-performance, leading industrial software company with immediate scale and relevancy in a fast-paced, evolving market. Today marks a significant milestone for Emerson and is a testament to our commitment to continue building a higher growth, more diversified portfolio. Together with new AspenTech, we expect to realize significant revenue and cost synergies, while having the platform and flexibility to strategically deploy capital for growth through continued investment and M&A,” says Lal Karsanbhai, President and Chief Executive Officer of Emerson.

“We have now begun a new era at AspenTech, expanding our global leadership in industrial software by providing capabilities that support the entire lifecycle of complex operations across a wide range of industry verticals,” said Antonio Pietri, President and Chief Executive Officer of new AspenTech. “With a comprehensive software portfolio, an expanded global sales channel and an even stronger balance sheet reinforced by Emerson, new AspenTech will be uniquely positioned to help our customers address the dual challenge of meeting the increasing global demand for resources in a sustainable manner. As we move forward, I am confident that new AspenTech is poised for significant growth and continued success as we deliver value for our customers, employees and shareholders.”

Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC and Centerview Partners LLC served as financial advisors to Emerson, and Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP served as legal counsel. J.P. Morgan Securities LLC served as financial advisor to AspenTech, and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP served as legal counsel.

Updated: Schneider Electric Launches Universal Automation Discovery Packs

Updated and corrected. I’m just off the “phone” with Louis Arone of Schneider Electric. Here are a few amplifications to what I wrote earlier this week.

  1. This release deals with factory automation, not process automation. Specifically technologies in use with the Modicon product line.
  2. Universal Automation is an organization. Check out the website. It lists 31 current members. The organization promotes standardization under IEC 61499.
  3. The foundation is software defined control. For Schneider Electric the instantiation is EcoStruxure Automation Expert software.
  4. Schneider Electric is developing on two PLC platforms, a drive platform, and a softPLC platform.
  5. While my comments about how important open automation is to the process side still stand, this conversation revealed the same importance to Schneider’s strategy for factory automation, as well.
  6. Ethernet remains the core network, just as my conversations with executives going back several generations emphasized.

Schneider Electric took a bold step last year announcing an open control platform evidently not proprietary to itself at all. Based on IEC 61499 open distributed control standards, it put this control out into the wild and asked competitors to forsake their own proprietary boxes and join it in the brave new Open Process Automation world. 

Pause while we listen for the rush to join.

Here are two articles I wrote last year about the announcement—Hannover announcement and Automation Expert.

Somewhere about the time of the sale of Foxboro and other assets to Schneider Electric, Foxboro executives told me firmly that they were betting heavily on the Open Process Automation  initiative as their competitive advantage. And to this day years later Schneider Electric has been a stalwart supporter of the work.

Today’s news involves release of Discovery Packs designed to jump start the program by offering free 12-month engineering software licenses. This obviously targets people who might possibly become internal advocates in end user companies spanning the globe. I did not count the number of references to innovators. You can catch that drift.

The news in brief:

  • New program designed to help industry professionals break the confines of traditional systems and enable next-generation automation
  • Innovative offer addressing the barrier of single vendor lock-in by testing the ability to decouple hardware from software using tools to reduce commissioning time and associated costs
  • Free 12-month engineering software license available for innovators to explore the benefits of universal automation and IEC61499-based solutions

Schneider Electric launched its Universal Automation Discovery Packs program in the U.S. May 18, 2022, giving innovators the opportunity to explore the benefits of universal automation. Through this program, experts from all aspects of the industry, including OEMs, system integrators, end users, distributors, academics, and others can receive a free license to explore this next-generation automation system for themselves. 

Universal automation is a disruptive technology based on the IEC61499 standard for interoperability and portability that decouples hardware and software by addressing one of the industry’s largest challenges to innovation — single-vendor lock-in. By having the opportunity to explore this new technology before leveraging it for commercial projects, innovators can better understand how the platform can support their organizational goals and improve operational efficiency.

“Today’s industry is changing faster than ever before, requiring both new solutions that offer greater flexibility and higher productivity, and a skilled workforce familiar with those solutions able to implement them,” said Kaishi Zhang, Global Director, Product Management at Schneider Electric. “Through this program, we are fostering digital innovation and creativity in the next wave of the industrial automation workforce by providing access to the latest universal automation platform and tools to get them started, encouraging them to take the next step in driving the industry of the future forward.”

Universal Automation Discovery Packs are for non-commercial use, enabling innovators to experience the benefits of universal automation while testing the interoperability and portability of Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure Automation Expert system with compatible 3rd party hardware. Available on both Microsoft- and Linux-based machines, the plug-and-produce automation software components are based on IEC61499, a key industry standard that defines high-level system design language for distributed Industrial Control Systems (ICS). Adoption of an IEC61499-based automation layer common across vendors has unlimited potential for modernization across industries.

The vendor-agnostic EcoStruxure Automation Expert — the world’s first universal automation solution — is an ideal platform for Industry 4.0 solutions, providing excellent reusability, scalability, and architectural flexibility. Through the implementation of a common distributed control runtime across hardware and software platforms, it represents a new approach to designing, building, operating, and maintaining industrial automation systems, offering a unique technology mix that defines a new category of integrated automation systems.

OMAC Launches Data Governance Initiative

The Organization for Machine Automation and Control (OMAC) continues to reinvent itself as new technologies and applications appear. I could say the same about Mark Fondl, whom I first met as he explained how Ethernet was going to be the only sensible control network some 24 years ago. About the time I first met OMAC. This initiative comes because of all the data-intensive technologies we’ve added in manufacturing over the past few years. We have cloud, analytics, digital transformation, data-driven, and the entire panoply of use cases and tech.

OMAC’s latest initiative, led by ei3’s Mark Fondl, aims to establish a framework and guidelines to protect precious proprietary information while enabling secure data sharing for efficiently solving problems, mining insights, and capturing the highest value from data-supported capabilities. 

The workgroup will elaborate on the following topics to help organizations boost employee collaboration and productivity and support continuous innovation through practical data-sharing approaches. 

  • Categorizing types of data and methods of segmentation
  • Identifying the sources of data 
  • Clustering data usage – from control and optimization to service and support
  • Understanding data ownership and constraints – especially concerning the use of insights arising from the data
  • Architecting data hierarchy for distribution 
  • Reviewing security regulations concerning the transfer and storage

Participating organizations include leading manufacturing companies such as Cargill, Pepsico, and Corning; well-known OEMs including Mettler-Toledo, Milacron, Barry-Wehmiller, and Nordson; system integrators like Rovisys and Martin CSI, and groundbreaking technology companies like the ei3 Corporation, Siemens, General Electric, Rockwell, Cisco, Mitsubishi Electric Europe B.V. amongst others.

The workgroup will meet virtually, with the kick-off meeting being planned for May 18, 2022. (Sorry, I’m a bit late to the party due to the allergy attack.) A face-to-face workshop will take place in December 2022 to allow active members to review the developed content and enable an easy and free flow of suggestions in advancing this topic.

If you would like to participate and contribute your knowledge, skill, and experience, please complete the Expression of Interest Form, and the workgroup administrator will reach out to you.

Rockwell Automation Sustainability Report

Sustainability news reports lag security in my inbox, but these show how enterprises lead the way. When I first wrote on this topic, the phrase was “green”. Gradually we began to use the term sustainable and then broadened the definition significantly. Following are highlights from Rockwell Automation announcing the release of its 2021 Sustainability Report.

“Amid a pandemic that is stretching into a third year, we are making significant progress on our most important goals, including efforts to make our company, customers, and communities more sustainable,” wrote Rockwell Automation Chairman and CEO Blake Moret in the report’s introductory letter. “In some ways, these efforts were accelerated by world events as we continue to act with urgency to make a difference. We’re transforming our company to meet the biggest industrial challenges of today and tomorrow.”

With metrics and stories, Rockwell’s 2021 Sustainability Report highlights a number of actions, including:

  • An expanded corporate sustainability team and function with additional investment and resources to elevate and align Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) efforts companywide
  • Enhanced and expanded sustainability solutions with a focus on energy, water, and waste to help Rockwell customers achieve their sustainability goals
  • Use of Rockwell technologies and expertise to drive sustainable innovations in vital industries including solar, steel, and packaging
  • Numerous projects underway as part of Rockwell’s own pursuit of carbon neutrality Scope 1 (direct) and Scope 2 (indirect) emissions by 2030

“A company’s value is only the sum of the ongoing, combined efforts of its people,” Moret said. “Our top priority is creating a healthy and safe environment where all people can and want to do their very best work. Our workplace is more flexible and diverse than ever before.”

The report describes several initiatives launched to support employee well-being and culture, including:

  • Appointment of Rockwell’s first Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer
  • New programs and resources, including Culture Workshops and Managing Across Difference training
  • Upgraded employee benefits, including new Caregiver Leave benefit and expanded Parental Leave for U.S. employees
  • A new global volunteer program — ROK in Action — that includes paid time off for employees to serve in their communities and Dollars for Doers rewards to support causes important to them

The report also notes how the need for a diverse and future-ready workforce remains a major priority for Rockwell and its manufacturing and technology peers. As such, the company further expanded its support of community, academic, and training programs focused on providing all students and participants with increased access to STEM education and career opportunities.